Lew's AUTHOR BLOG

Posts Tagged ‘The Spooky Art by Norman Mailer’

“endings” in The Spooky Art by Norman Mailer

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 15, 2007

·   I look to find my book as I go along·   Plot comes last. ·   I want my conception of my characters to be deep enough that they will get me to places (which I did not plan) and where I have to live by my wits. ·   If the characters stay alive, and keep developing, the plot will take care of itself.  ·   Is there a problem if the reader senses that the author doesn’t know how the plot turns out?

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* “don’t do” in The Spooky Art by Norman Mailer

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 9, 2007

  • The moment you moralize in your novel, your book is no longer moral.  It has become pious, and piety corrodes morality. 
  • Don’t go into your protagonist’s thoughts until you have something to say about his inner life that is more interesting than the reader’s suppositions

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“plot” in The Spooky Art by Norman Mailer

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 9, 2007

                        

·   a novel is most alive when one can trace the disasters which follow victory or the subtle turns that sometimes come from a defeat. ·   to know what you want to say is not the best condition for writing a novel. novels go happiest when you discover something you didn’t know: an insight into one of your more opaque characters, a metaphor that startles you even as you are setting it down, a truth that used to elude you. ·   we live in and out of ongoing, and discontinuous, plots ·   our love of plot comes from our need to find the chain of cause and effect that so often is missing in our own existence  ·   I look to find my book as I go along. Plot comes last. I want my conception of my characters to be deep enough that they will get me to places (which I did not plan) and where I have to live by my wits. If the characters stay alive, and keep developing, the plot will take care of itself. ·   most of our lives are spent getting ready for dramatic moments that don’t take place. ·   I no longer make up a master plan before I begin a novel. some of my best ideas come because I haven’t fixed my novel’s future in concrete. I want to keep the feeling that I didn’t know how it was going to turn out. I prefer a story that develops out of the writing. ·   Characters (who are alive) need to fulfill their own perverse and surprising capabilities. ·   I don’t do my research too far ahead of where I am in the novel. ·   if you get a good novel going, you have a small universe functioning, living in relation to its own scheme of cause and effect. ·    Planning too carefully makes it almost impossible for one of your characters to go through a dramatic shift of heart. ·   the artist seeks to create a spell … a feeling that he knows something deeper than his normal comprehension … a sense of one-ness  ·   both artists and scientists are trying to penetrate into the substance of things  ·   coincidences occur … exciting us with a livid sense that there’s a superstructure about us, and in this superstructure there are the agents of a presence larger than our imagination. ·   stories bring order to the absurdity of reality. Relief is provided by the narrative’s beginning, middle and end.  ·   In analyzing novels, consider each major character, and describe where he was at the beginning of the story, where he ended up, and how he got there.  ·   Jorge Borges has a magical ability to put plots through metamorphoses, thus posing the difficulty of comprehending reality. ·  writing a novel is creating a world, God-like, presumptuous, intoxicating, never comfortable.

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“point of view” in The Spooky Art by Norman Mailer

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 9, 2007

·  in the 1st person, you gain immediacy but lose insight, because you can’t move into other people’s heads. ·  in the 3rd person, you are God, ready to see into everyone’s mind, enter into every character’s consciousness. ·  1st person cannot be as free as the separation between author and protagonist offered by the 3rd person.  

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* “character” in The Spooky Art by Norman Mailer

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 9, 2007

·   Tolstoy teaches us that compassion is of value and enriches our lives only when it is severe – when we can perceive everything that is good and bad about a character but are still able to feel that the sum is probably a little more good than awful. ·    an author needs to ask himself constantly if he is being fair to his characters.  ·    we are relatively unfamiliar with the cunning of the strong and the stupid. We tend to know too little of how the world works. those who do real work tend not to write, and writers who explore the minds of such men approach from an intellectual stance that distorts their vision.  ·   seek to apply what I know about political power, finance, and management to my portrayal of Lorenzo de Medici. Imagine how he feels about what he does, or does not do.  ·   never be satisfied with (the way you are presenting) any of your characters, even when they have come alive for you. unless your characters keep growing through (their response to) the events of the book, your novel can go nowhere that can surprise you.·   if the character does not grow, there is no place to go but into the plot  ·     the creative act of allowing (demanding?) your characters to grow is the real excitement of writing. your characters become as complex as real people. But what if they don’t grow, and you don’t bring out the beauty you initially perceived. ·  if you get a good novel going, you have a small universe functioning, living in relation to its own scheme of cause and effect. Planning too carefully makes it almost impossible for one of your characters to go through a dramatic shift of heart.  ·   don’t go into your protagonist’s thoughts until you have something to say about his inner life that is more interesting than the reader’s suppositions.  ·   protagonists are always moving between choices, while the author monitors those decisions.  ·    there are points in the course of fashioning a character where you recognize that you don’t know enough about the person you are trying to create. At such times, I take it for granted that my unconscious knows more than I do. ·    any person studied in depth will prove fascinating.  ·   stories bring order to the absurdity of reality. Relief is provided by the narrative’s beginning, middle and end.  ·   In analyzing novels, consider a major character, and describe where he was at the beginning of the story, where he ended up, and how he got there.

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